Gardening Talent: Judyta Ubych: Maintaining The Barbican garden
Working as assistant gardener for the City of London Corporation, Judyta’s role is to keep Nigel Dunnett’s exemplary urban plantings at The Barbican in fine form. Portrait Andrew Montgomery
Who has inspired your career? Both of my grandmothers were wonderful gardeners, one had a garden and the other an allotment, and I have lots of happy memories of spending time with them there. In my family, home-grown produce and fresh flowers were celebrated in seasonal dishes and eagerly anticipated at family gatherings.
Who has inspired your career? Carol Klein’s enthusiasm for plants and plant science was highly infectious at the beginning of my adventure with horticulture when I binge-watched and read anything and everything to do with gardening.
Is gardening a career change? I never considered horticulture as a career while living in Poland. I studied social anthropology, travelled and struggled to find a fitting career. When a company I worked for closed down, I began to volunteer on organic farms and to visit gardens. These things made me realise that I was the happiest when gardening and so I gave it a go professionally.
Worthwhile tips Know your plants, learn how they grow in their native habitat, what their specific needs are. That way you can allow plants to become resilient, most will find a way to thrive without being mollycoddled. This allows you to garden more sustainably, and water less frequently. Stagger your cutting back to allow for a fuller plant cycle and to support wildlife. And keep taking notes and remember to look back over them throughout the year.
Dream plant destination During this time of travel restriction, I keep dreaming of trekking through southwest Poland in the Carpathian Mountains region where I grew up. It has unique flora and is interesting all year round.
Favourite ‘weed’ you are happy to have in your garden Verbena officinalis var. grandiflora ‘Bampton’; it self-seeds profusely, somehow travelling from my home to the allotment, and, apart for being a pollinator magnet it, looks very handsome popping up through my kale plants.
What’s the future for horticulture? I hope there will be further improvement of urban green spaces – they provide an essential space to connect people with plants so that we are all invested in protecting the natural world for the future.
Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest home and entertainment brands in the world. He is a serial house-renovator and home improvement expert, taking on everything from interior design and DIY to landscape gardening and garden design.
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